View Full Version : Why recruiting rankings matter

12-21-2010, 05:48 PM

The relationship of recruiting and success may be self-evident enough to fall under the heading of "duh studies," but we are approaching the peak not only of heavy breathing over collections of teenage talent, but also relentless mocking of said breathing, and of the big-business attempts to sate ever-growing recruiting lust with very official, inscrutably-reasoned rankings of that talent. Newspapers will anecdotally trash the system in one-sentence (and occasionally one-word) paragraphs on Signing Day, more or less mirroring the Wizard of Odds’ rhetorical smack before last year’s rankings were released: "snake oil salesmen have more credibility."

Recruiting is a kind of inherently chicken-and-egg business, which leads to opinions like this, cribbed from a run-of-the-mill debate on a UConn message board last week but representative of the same wider scorn for guru ratings (capitalization and lack thereof sic):
for every USC, OSU, LSU, UGA, and USC that are in the top 10, there schools like Tennessee, Michigan State, Penn State, FSU, Miami, & Alabama, that haven't come close to meeting expectations set by the recruiting rankings.

it's not groundbreaking to predict that the best players are being recruited by the schools that have, traditionally, been the best. they are playing the odds, they are grading on a curve. they figure the schools that have been the best, will stay the best. so they just rate the recruits of the bigtime programs higher, therefore the bigtime programs will always be ranked higher in the standings. so when LSU wins a national championship they can say "i told you so". But they certainly never predicted the success of Wake Forest, UConn, Boise State, or Hawaii.
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Oh, the "success" of UConn, following back-to-back seasons of six and eight losses with stirring beatdowns of blue chip factories Duke, Maine, Temple, Pittsburgh, Akron, Louisville, South Florida, Rutgers and Syracuse (be sure to look for these powerhouses on the first chart below).

I respect said poster, though, for actually bringing some numbers to the table, namely those of Miami and Florida State on the one end and Wake Forest, Hawaii, Boise State and UConn, about which the recruitniks have been so, so wrong the last two years (well, in UConn’s just one – most of it, anyway). To wit, his trump cards, aggregating the success of classes since 2003:

Long article, very in depth but a great read.